I did an interview for the Today Show’s website with Wynkoop Brewing Company “Idea Man” Marty Jones about Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, a beer brewed with bull testicles. The beer started as nothing more a video hoax (the best one of this year’s April Fools crop, IMO) but then Wynkoop actually went and brewed the thing. Below you’ll find the full unedited text of Marty’s responses, which include some interesting insights to the decision making behind pulling the trigger on brewing a really weird, attention-grabbing beer and what happens after you do.
Here’s the video in case you didn’t catch it the first time around…
What made Wynkoop decide to turn this joke into a reality? It gave us a hilarious excuse to create a unique and rule-breaking beer. And a chance to have big fun, take some risks and challenge ourselves and our fans. All very important things for us.
It gave us a tasty, irreverent way to showcase our brewing moxie and sense of humor, too. And get attention through the near-blinding swirl of GABF activity. Hard to do.
Back in April, the video was a big success and did just what I hoped it would do: make us, our fans and our beery allies laugh a great deal. Top priority there. It also got us loads of attention (the puns are unavoidable at this point!), became a beer-video hit and hipped new fans to our pioneering brewpub and our liquid art.
Plus, when I sent the info out to the press, I was surprised by the number of people who didn’t get the joke and wanted samples of the beer. We also had a few dozen folks show up to the pub on April 1 looking to drink the beer. That was a sign.
What did you think the moment you knew the beer was actually going to be brewed? Giddy joy! Some of our scrappy little crew — including Andy Brown, our savvy and mighty head brewer — weren’t sure about making the beer, for legit reasons. We make liquid art. We take our beer and craft very seriously. A beer will bull testicles could lead some of our fans to think we’re making light of our craft and resorting to trick plays.There were a few concerns about offending people.
But we all know it’s good to offend and challenge your fans sometimes. And to never take yourself too seriously. We are in the entertainment and spreading-joy trade, so this beer was a perfect pretension smasher. And a fun risk.
Better still, Andy created a magnificent recipe for the beer that made RMOS a delicious, rule-breaking treat that’s seriously good. It’s one more example of Wynkoop liquid art. And it takes a ballsy brewer to make a great beer with bull testicles.
How does RMOS reflect the ethos of Wynkoop? — It echoes our pioneering, damn-the-status-quo mantra we’ve had from our start in 1988. It honors the work of our original brewer, Russell Schehrer, who made some of the first styles of beer many in CO and the US ever tasted. (The Brewers Association’s annual Innovation Award is named for Russell.) It sure reflects our sense of humor (and that of our clever founder, CO Governor John Hickenlooper) and our vital focus on the pursuit of happiness on the job.
Any funny stories of people not being able to muster a sip? At GABF the beer was a big hit. We were in the worst spot of the festival floor, in the back corner, but had the biggest crowds we’ve ever had at our GABF table.
80% of the people were there for the beer. Comments? “I’ve been wanting to try this all week.” “Gotta try the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout” — ‘Can I try your balls?” — “I’m going nuts.” Many puns from the crowd. One fave: “I have a seafood allergy, can I drink this beer?” Of course!
A handful of people said “No thanks.”
Are you creeped out by rocky mountain oysters? Filming the video was surely creepy. Those things were giant and freaky. I think we all washed our hands a gazillion times. Andy and Brad did a marvelous job as brewery straight men and, uh, ball handlers. Many of us have eaten them before and didn’t enjoy them. But our kitchen staff has been serving an RMOS special that’s delish.
As a beer geek and evangelist, how does the whole RMOS story make you feel? The self-effacing video, the Internet buzz, the open communication from beer geeks, the brewing of a really weird beer; the RMOS story encapsulates much of what’s awesome about the American craft beer scene in the 21st century. Well thank for saying that. We agree. One of small-batch beer trade’s hallmarks is having fun and defying the mainstream and redefining what beer is all about. This beer does all of that in grand, funny and delicious fashion.
And it was a hoot to see Anderson Cooper and Nancy Odell sample the beer last week on his show, and crack good jokes about it. Big thrill!
Does this beer have a future? – Heck yeah. It has to. We had already applied for label approval to Uncle Sam and the TTB, so that we can sell it in cans soon. We hope to get the nod soon. Meantime we’re selling it on draft at our brewpub. And selling many RMOS shirts!
Thanks again to Marty for taking the time to answer my questions, especially during the hellish rush of GABF. you can read the full Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout post here on the Today Show’s website.